We are happy to announce that Riina-Minna Väänänen joins our Medical Data Science team in Helsinki.
Riina is a calm and responsible personality, but one that’s also social and enjoys the company of others. She grew up in Joensuu, Finland, and some say that a bit of the famous unreserved North Karelian attitude, with its openness and hospitality, has stuck with her.
“My parents taught me to read at the age of three and I’ve been interested in writing since I was a child. As a meticulous person, I later developed a habit of proofreading my friends’ and colleagues’ theses or other writing assignments at the university, just for fun. I also enjoy dabbling in some creative writing in my spare time, on and off.”
Riina describes that she’s always found it important to work in a field that affects people’s lives profoundly, and how medicine fits that description. However, blood and needles make her queasy, so instead of pursuing a career as a doctor, she wanted to enter the field from the research angle. In high school, she was fascinated by genes and DNA, so she ended up doing nucleic acid diagnostics research. “When it dawned on me that there was an opportunity to combine these interests into a career, I knew I’d found my place!”
“I really enjoyed managing client relationships, and especially appreciated the professional and personal connections that were made.“
Riina studied molecular biotechnology and diagnostics at the Department of Biotechnology at the University of Turku, Finland, earning both her MSc and PhD there in a prostate cancer research group led by Prof. Kim Pettersson. Her PhD research focused on nucleic acid diagnostics of prostate cancer; the group developed quantitative PCR assays for novel RNA biomarker candidates. After her PhD, Riina worked as a medical writer and a project manager at Aurexel Life Sciences with preclinical oncology and drug development as her specialty. “I got to be a part of many exciting studies published in peer-reviewed journals or presented at conferences. I really enjoyed managing client relationships, and especially appreciated the professional and personal connections that were made.”
“I’m inspired by people who are supportive, keen on continuous improvement as a team, and who are open to share their talent.”
“In my career, I’ve found that the most rewarding endeavor has been participating in international collaborations. The fact that scientists from several countries can come together and share knowledge and contribute to the progress of an entire field is exhilarating to me!”
Riina has a very sharp eye and makes clever observations look easy. “In general, I’m inspired by people who are supportive, keen on continuous improvement as a team, and who are open to share their talent. At MedEngine, the team is a collection of people who have a similar passion for the pharmaceutical industry and strive for excellence in their work. Overall, what keeps me motivated is the opportunity to contribute to the field of medicine as one link in the long chain of great discoveries and advancement, bringing new treatments to people.”
In her early years Riina had theater and ballet as a hobby but hasn’t been on stage recently, “Nowadays I enjoy both art forms strictly from the audience only. In addition to theater, I enjoy films and modern art, for example cool installations like the mirror rooms of Yayoi Kusama.” Riina really likes New York City. Before Covid-19 pandemic, she visited the city annually, just to enjoy the metropolitan atmosphere. “The beat of the city accelerates your pulse and makes you feel very much alive—it gives a sense that anything is possible, and a miracle could be just around the next corner! To counterbalance this burst of energy she says she lives a rather steady life residing in Turku, Finland.
“The beat of the city accelerates your pulse and makes you feel very much alive—it gives a sense that anything is possible, and a miracle could be just around the next corner!”
“I also have an 18-year-old cat. She’s an old lady who’s a ball of white fur that gets everywhere and whom I’ve had since she was a kitten. She sleeps all day but likes to wake me up at 4 am by tapping my face with her paw”, Riina laughs.
Great to have you with us, Riina. A Warm Welcome!